Shipped Off In Shackles

January 21, 2014

As President Obama pushes for immigration reform at a moment when his own administration is reaching a record 2 million deportations, photographer John Moore offers a rare glimpse of the militarized deportation process.

All photos copyright John Moore, 2013.

All photos copyright John Moore/Getty Images, 2013.

This year, as President Obama presses for immigration reform, he will reach a grim milestone: his administration will have deported two million immigrants, more than any president in U.S. history. Obama has significantly stepped up the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico, spending more on immigration enforcement than all other types of federal law enforcement combined.

Last February, I photographed immigrants from Honduras as they were loaded onto a flight back to their country. A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement directive gave enforcement agents more discretion in choosing whether to deport undocumented immigrants who pose no public threat and have close ties to communities within the United States. But all of the Hondurans, including those without criminal records, were sent home with shackles on both their hands and their feet—a small sign of how militarized U.S. immigration policies have become. The laces of their shoes had been removed for “security reasons.”

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